Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Family Fun on a budget: Nature Walks

We love to get out of the house on the weekend, but with two little guys we don't have extra money to throw around. I have become very good at finding ways to get out of the house for the day without breaking the bank (also see my "Travel Tip Tuesday" post for vacationing on a budget and general tips for vacationing with little ones).

Brady loves "hiking" as he calls it. I would call it a nature walk more than a hike - but to him any walk in a relatively wooded area is a "hike". This is a perfect thing to do almost anytime of year (except when it is cold, snowy, rainy). It is a great way to get out of the house and get some exercise while doing something that your children will really enjoy.

We go to a wooded trail in the town next to our house. Now it is really just a path through the woods - nothing fancy and not difficult at all. Perfect for a little one. We walk, we explore, we climb on logs, we get really close to the stream, we look for animals / bugs / insects and we get really dirty (he usually manages to fall in the mud at least once). What 5 year old wouldn't like to spend a day doing this????

The place we go also has a playground right there and a picnic we can make a whole afternoon out of it too. We bring sandwiches, snacks and juice boxes / waters. We have lunch at the picnic area, we go "hiking" and then we play at the playground. An added benefit is that Brady is exhausted after this and bedtime is usually very easy - since he passes right out.

How do you find a place to go?

Obviously keep an eye open at parks / playgrounds in you area and see if they have wooded area / trails. My real suggestion though (at least for those people in the US)....go to, click on your State and it will bring up the list of State Parks (you can also click on your region from this page to narrow down you search if you choose). From here you will want to start clicking on the various parks - most parks that you click on will list the activities available, many of which will have hiking trails. I have found that many of the State Parks that I have looked at tell you enough about the hiking trail to determine if you will be able to handle it with you little one, but if you are unsure try to research further online. You can look for reviews and other articles in conjuction with the State Park website to be very sure that this will work for you and your children.

What to bring?

- We pack a picnic lunch
- Juice boxes
- Water
- A change of shoes (we usually only worry about Brady) this stays in the car.
- A change of clothes (again, we usually only worry about Brady - but sometimes he figures a way to get us dirty too) this also stays in the car.
- We bring the baby too - so I bring my baby bjorn (you probably don't want to hike through the woods with your stroller)...the diaper bag stays in the car - because....where am I going to change a diaper in the woods anyway.
- A shovel and pail and possible a platic bag (I tend to go for the large ziploc freezer bags) for collecting things...depending on the seasons (and of course where you live) you can also collect items to be used in future art projects...leaves for Thanksgiving placemats - pinecones for christmas ornaments (both of those items can also be used on Christmas Wreaths as well)...

So try hiking / nature walks with your little ones...they will love it and the added benefit is that the whole family gets some exercise too.

See my other Family Fun on a Budget posts


  1. Until the other day when we went to the pond park I hadn't thought of bringing anything extra and learned quickly about extra shoes and extra pants! Another good thing if you are going somewhere stroller accessible is a garbage bag or big piece of cardboard for under the stroller wheels in the car if the area has wildlife (unavoidable geese doo on the path)!

  2. Brady has been fully potty trained for over 2 years but we almost always have a change of clothes for him...he always finds some way to get dirty.

    The garbage bag for under the stroller is a great tip.

  3. This is really great advice : ). Your son looks so happy. What a little sweetie.


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